It was in the late decay of August, under the large white VIP tent, backstage at an outdoor music festival that I first saw him in person, a rock artist and poet I had admired for some time. And as if I knew what I was doing I closed my book and impetuously walked right over and introduced myself.
He invited me to sit with him; we talked about travel, music and poetry. Youthfully self-aware and spontaneous, I was just entering my twenties and barely an adult; he was handsome, worldly and accomplished.
After our conversation and signing my copy of his recent book, in parting he smiled at me and said,
“There are secrets in words…”
His pale blue eyes threatening my false bravado as he looked at me. “I’m a writer as well,” I had offered casually the first time I actually called myself a writer. I lied. Or so a little birdy told me as I heard myself chirp, “I write poetry.”
At least, it felt like a lie. But feelings themselves can be deceiving.
Because, I thought, isn’t it a lie, or sin, or something when you say things that you feel to be untrue, even if it isn’t? Maybe it wasn’t so much a lie then as it was a disbelief of the truth.
Which I was pretty sure was the very definition of sin itself…
I was going to hell; I felt sure of it.
But if my fate was sealed, it was with an autographed copy of some of my new favorite poems clasped closely to my chest as I skipped back to tell my parents and friends of my recent encounter and confess my pride and blasphemy.
In reality, I did write (in many small journals, almost daily) and often it poured out through the expression of poetry. However, since the sky-eyed poet’s words were printed, and illustrated, bound within entire books devoted solely to his words, I felt his words were more valid. He was a real writer, obviously, so I guessed that meant that I, therefore, was not. His words mattered to many, while mine only mattered to me (or so I thought).
But I somehow felt his words, though published, did not invite company and I felt almost as if I was intruding by revealing that I had read them. My words, well, they were still a mystery since no one had read them but me.
Poetry is personal, and writing, like a religion, requires faith for the transformative work to begin, and to recognize your new identity.
There is a piety in poetry and the other way around.
So I poured out my prayers on page after page in poetry and prose, and practiced my devotion to truth and transformation through writing. Because faith without works is dead.
And slowly over the years my devotion to description, doodles and daydreams, protest and praise developed into a fluid, fluent faith… practicing the presence of God and seeing this privilege of working with words as the worshipful act that it is.
“… and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32
© Una-Melina 2014.